Monthly Archives: October 2021

  • More comprehensive, transcendental abuse?

    New logo as Facebook morphs into MetaIn the small hours of Friday morning, news came in that Facebook Inc. is to change its name to Meta, allegedly better to “encompass” what it does as it expands from social media to other sectors such as virtual reality.

    Meta, from the Greek μετα-, meta-, meaning “after” or “beyond“, is a prefix meaning more comprehensive or transcending.

    Whether the rebrand will involve the more dubious of Facebook’s more comprehensive or transcending business practices being extended to those new sectors remains to be seen.

    Facebook was founded in February 2004 by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg. Not long afterwards, the controversies and abuse of users started. As The Register recalled in 2010, the then 19 year-old Zuckerberg called his first few thousand users “dumb f*cks” in a private conversation with a friend.

    However, even that early sign of contempt did not prevent Zuckerberg’s social media infant growing into an obese behemoth of the social media sector, with a current user (i.e. product. Ed.) base of 2.85 billion people.

    Perhaps Zuckerberg is secretly delighted there are so many dumb people in the world. They’ve been paying his bills for more than one and a half decades, after all.

    After those early days, Facebook’s user base grew, as did the propensity for abuse, culminating in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. Cambridge Analytica was established in 2013 as a subsidiary of the private intelligence company and self-described “global election management agency” SCL Group by 3 long-serving SCL executives. The company offices in London, New York City and Washington, DC. Cambridge Analytica was implicated in affecting the results of the 2016 US presidential campaign, where data it hoovered up from Facebook users was used to build psychographic profiles, determining users’ personality traits based on their Facebook activity. These profiles were then used for micro-targeting voters displaying customised advertisements on various online platforms. The key point of this activity was to identify those who might be enticed to vote for Trump or be discouraged to vote for their opponent. In addition, Cambridge Analytica was allegedly hired as a consultant company for Leave.EU and the UK Independence Party during 2016 as an effort to convince people to vote in favour of the UK leaving the European Union in David Cameron’s amateurish EU membership referendum. However, the UK Information Commissioner’s official investigation found that Cambridge Analytica was not involved “beyond some initial enquiries” and the regulator did not identify any “significant breaches” of data protection legislation or privacy or marketing regulations “which met the threshold for formal regulatory action“. Cambridge Analytica cased operations in 2018 following the revelations of its privacy-busting operations, although firms related to both Cambridge Analytica and its parent firm SCL still exist.

    Zuckerberg subsequently apologised for Facebook’s involvement with Cambridge Analytica, calling it an “issue“, a “mistake” and a “breach of trust“, as well as pledging not to let such abuse occur again.

    Nevertheless, the abuse of users didn’t stop and have continued right up to the present.

    The latest revelations come ex-employee Frances Haugen, who was employed by Facebook as a data scientist, leaked documents revealing that the company placed “profits over safety“. Since her revelations, Ms. Haugen has given evidence to a US Senate sub-committee and testified in person to a UK parliamentary committee scrutinising the online safety bill.

    Reporting on the name change, The Register noted beneath its headline that Zuckerberg’s social network has “Meta-stasized“. Leaving aside El Reg’s overt reference to the former secret police of the so-called German Democratic Republic, metastasis is defined as a change of position, state, or form. The primary use of metastasis today is in medicine where it defines the development of secondary malignant growths at a distance from a primary site of cancer.

    Finally, as a further dampener on the rebrand’s distraction value, a report in today’s Guardian reveals that Meta translates as dead in Hebrew.

    Have fun in Zuck’s metaverse, y’all! 😀

  • ‘Concrete’ Mike pwned

    Your ‘umble scribe is not a listener to Rupert Murdoch’s TalkRadio channel, being as it is top-heavy with right-wing presenters and commentators.

    Furthermore, its audience compared to other national broadcasters is tiny, with Rajar figures revealing an average national number of listeners of 433,000, i.e. less than the current estimated population of Bristol.

    One of those right-wing presenters had a bad day at the studio yesterday.

    Step forward one Archibald Michael Graham, otherwise know as ‘Iron’ Mike, former editor of the Scottish edition of the Daily Mirror and former assistant editor of the Daily Brexit (which some still call the Express. Ed.).

    Yesterday he’d invited Insulate Britain spokesperson Cameron Ford, onto the TalkRadio breakfast show, where he is currently deputising for the dreadful Julia Hartley-Brewer, ostensibly to discuss Insulate Britain’s latest protest action, but more likely so that Ford could give him a good verbal kicking for the entertainment of the station’s none too large audience.

    However, matters did not progress entirely to plan, leaving Iron Mike’s carapace pitted with rust as he ended up displaying his own stupidity, which has now gone viral around the English-speaking world.

    Graham’s stupidity was so egregious that the hashtag #ConcreteMike is trending on Twitter today.

    The interview, which lasted less than one minute in total, starts with no style at all. Graham launches straight into an ad hominem attack on his guest – a carpenter by trade – claiming that wood is not a sustainable product, before trying to assert that concrete is a sustainable product, before being politely corrected. There then follow a period of silence before Graham ends the interview thinking he’s embarrassed his guest, whilst not having the nous to realise he has opened his mouth and inserted his foot up to the ankle, as per the video clip below.

  • Enforcement Bristol City Council style

    Bristol has one of the highest council tax charges in the country.

    Furthermore, it also provides tenth-rate services for that money.

    Just how ineffective can be examined by looking at one particular so-called ‘service‘: enforcement against fly-tippers and the like.

    In the penultimate of a regular series of meetings about cleanliness in Easton and Lawrence Hill wards, BCC’s head of enforcement just happened to mention he’d noticed an ‘issue‘ with fly-tipping in the Chaplin Road area.

    Other local residents and your ‘umble scribe have only been reporting a problem in this area for some 10 and a half years, so there’s a clue as to how long it takes our apology for a local authority to notice something is wrong that doesn’t involve chasing non-payment of council tax or the issuing of bus passes (the only 2 council activities that seem to occur on an anything resembling an acceptable timescale. Ed.)

    <I seem to recall the head of enforcement suggesting some remedial action needed taking.

    That remedial action has now been implemented and is illustrated in the following photograph.

    BCC A5 no fly-tipping sign

    That’s right! The remedial measures seem to have consisted of sending a bloke out with an A5 corrugated plastic sign and cable ties and attaching it to a local resident’s railings at the junction of Chaplin Road and Normanby Road. Out of politeness, your correspondent shall refrain from asking whether the council gained the consent of the occupier/owner before affixing its notice.

    This is the enforcement equivalent of a chocolate teapot, as can be seen by today’s photo of the same site.

    Cardboard and other items in front of no fly-tipping sign

    Clean streets campaigners are becoming increasingly fed up with inaction from the city council, particularly as it recently recruited several additional enforcement officers (posts passim).

    With those additional enforcement officers and the lashings of cash provided by the public, I and other campaigners want more from the council.

    So, come on BCC! Surely you can afford to have those nice, new enforcement officers deployed to stake out ‘grot spots‘ around the city outside office hours to catch offenders red-handed?
  • Anonymity and hypocrisy

    Priti Patel, inexplicably promoted beyond her competence (i.e. unfit to clean a public office, let alone fill one. Ed.) by part-time alleged prime minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson to Home Secretary, announced her latest authoritarian measure last Sunday; this time mis-targeted at reducing online harassment and abuse on social media.

    Reporting on her appearance on Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday, The Independent writes:

    Ms Patel indicated she is considering going a step further by requiring sites such as Facebook or Twitter to retain details of the identities of people posting material which could be handed over to police investigating crimes.

    Needless to say Patel’s announcement of the proposed slap of firm government has gone down well with the more right-leaning members of the British establishment, one of whom took to the very same social media to become a cheerleader for repression.

    Tweet from Lance Forman stating Excellent. Anonymity should be removed from social media
    Lance who?

    At this point someone steps forward with no style at all and inserts his foot firmly between his teeth, namely Mr Lance Philip Forman, educated at Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School and Trinity College, Cambridge. However, this scion of the British establish is better known as a former Brexit Party MEP, as well as the owner of London-based salmon smokers H. Forman and Son.

    Forman is not backwards in coming forward to support Priti Patel’s proposal to ban social media anonymity, tweeting:

    Excellent. Anonymity should be removed from social media.
    However,and it’s a substantial however too, Mr Forman’s support for the alleged home secretary’s anonymity proposal comes with a large helping, not of smoked salmon but cordon bleu grade hypocrisy.

    Use quick internet search on Mr Forman quickly turns up his Wikipedia page, which just happens to mention the following information which does not lend support to his stance:

    Lance Philip Anisfeld (born 13 October 1962), known professionally as Lance Philip Forman, is a British politician and businessman,…

    Known professionally as… Isn’t that the same as concealing one’s true identity which is not too far removed from hiding behind anonymity? 😉

  • Ubuntu 21.10 released

    Two days ago, Canonical announced the release of Ubuntu Linux 21.10, codenamed Impish Indri.

    Ubuntu 21.10 wallpaper

    Canonical’s CEO Mark Shuttleworth said of the release:

    As open source becomes the new default, we aim to bring Ubuntu to all the corners of the enterprise and all the places developers want to innovate. From the biggest public clouds to the tiniest devices, from DGX servers to Windows WSL workstations, open source is the springboard for new ideas and Ubuntu makes that springboard safe, secure and consistent.

    This latest Ubuntu release is a short-term one with nine months of support that precedes the next long-term support (LTS) version, Ubuntu 22.04.

    The new release’s default desktop interface is GNOME 40, whilst there have also been some updates to the distribution’s default desktop programs, which now include the LibreOffice 7.2 office productivity suite, the Thunderbird 91 e-mail client, and the Firefox 92 web browser.

    Ubuntu 21.10 is available for immediate download for 64-bit systems (32-bit support ceased some time ago. Ed.)

  • Introducing Ubuntu Frame

    Earlier this month, Canonical, the company behind the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution, announced the release of Ubuntu Frame

    With Ubuntu Frame, developers no longer need to integrate and maintain partial solutions such as DRM, KMS, input protocols or security policies to power and secure their displays. This means less code to manage, fewer opportunities for bugs and vulnerabilities in untried code and more time for developing the display’s content.

    Ubuntu Frame screenshot
    Ubuntu Frame screenshot

    When developing Ubuntu Frame, the goal was to minimise the development and deployment time for building graphic solutions for edge devices by leveraging existing applications and hardening security techniques. Ubuntu Frame is therefore compatible with toolkits such as Flutter, Qt, GTK, Electron and SDL2. Furthermore, it also has a solution for applications based on HTML5 and Java, inter alia. It is also worth mentioning that Ubuntu Frame’s users benefit from easy configuration and deployment options thanks to snaps, which is being heralded asthe next-generation package format for Linux.

    Ubuntu Frame provides developers with all they need to deploy fully interactive applications: it comes with all the interfaces applications need to communicate securely with the host machine without developers needing to deal with the specific hardware. It also automatically enables all the functionality that end-users expect while interacting with digital displays, such as input from touchscreens, keyboard and mouse. Developers also don’t need to worry about window behaviours and dynamics since they are all configured.

    Commenting on the launch, Michał Sawicz, Smart Displays Engineering Manager at Canonical said the following:

    Ubuntu Frame’s reliability has been widely tested in the field. Its technology has been in development for over 7 years and in production for 5 years, using state-of-the-art techniques, and deployed in production to Linux desktop and mobile users. As such, Ubuntu Frame is one of the most mature graphical servers available today for embedded devices.
  • Meet Tokyo’s litter samurai

    In Tokyo there’s a special team of you men and women who help keep the streets clean with some elegant and graceful moves they perform whilst dressed in traditional Japanese robes and Western trilby hats.

    Known as Gomihiroi Samurai (“litter-picking Samurai”), these environmentally conscious individuals have a unique approach to clean streets, as can be seen below.

    The group have gained popularity on social media site TikTok, where they have gained over 300,000 followers, as well as on InstagramFacebook and YouTube.

    They’re all street performers and one of them, Naka Keisuke, told France 24 that the group thought they’d like to welcome visitors from around the world to a clean city when it was announced that Tokyo had been chosen for the last Olympic Games.

    Given Bristol’s love for street performers, they’d go down a storm in the litter capital of the West Country… if they weren’t worn out by the sheer amount of filth.

  • Daily Brexit: promises versus reality

    The Daily Express, aka the Daily Brexit in some circles, was one of the most enthusiastic cheerleaders for the English Empire (which some still call the United Kingdom. Ed.) to leave to European Union, which if not promising a land flowing with biblical milk and honey, it was at the very least holding out the prospect of one where cake could both be had and eaten.

    However, the reality of being a third country and the spite, nastiness and xenophobia that have exemplified the British government and media’s attitude to our European friends and partners (© part-time alleged prime minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson) and development since 21st December 2020 have made the Daily Brexit’s mission of being upbeat about the country’s splendid isolation more difficult, as shown by evidence from its own post-Brexit headlines.

    How it started How it’s going
    On the left pre-referendum headlines. On the right post-referendum reality headlines